Helena Augusta

Basilica of St. Lawrence   Rome


At the same time Constantine Augustus [he] built the basilica of blessed Lawrence, the martyr1, on the Via Tiburtina in the Ager Veranus over the burial crypt, and he made stairs of ascent and of descent to the body of the holy martyr Lawrence. In that place he erected an apse and adorned it with porphyry and the spot over the tomb he enclosed with silver and beautified it with railings of purest silver, which weighed 1000 lbs.; and before the tomb itself within the crypt he set:
a lamp of purest gold with io wicks, weighing 20 lbs.;
a crown of purest silver with 50 dolphins, weighing 30 lbs.;
a bronze candlesticks, 10 feet in height, weighing each 300 lbs.;
before the body of the blessed Lawrence, the martyr, images overlaid with silver to show his passion and silver lamps with 6 wicks, weighing each 15 lbs.

In the same locality2:
the property of one Quiriaces, a religious woman, which the fisc had seized in the time of the persecution, the estate of Veranus3, yielding 160 sol.;
the property of Aqua Tuscia on one side, yielding 153 sol.;
the property of Augustus in the Sabine region, yielding to the name of the Christians4 120 sol.;
the property of Sulfuratae5 yielding 62 sol.;
the property of Micinae belonging to Augustus, yielding 110 sol.;
the property of Termulac, yielding 65 sol.;
the property of Aranae, yielding 70 sol.;
the property of Septimitus, yielding 130 sol.

The gift which he offered:
a golden paten, weighing 20 lbs.;
2 silver patens, weighing each 30 lbs.;
a goblet of purest gold, weighing 15 lbs.;
2 silver goblets, weighing each 10 lbs.;
110 silver chalices for service, weighing each 2 lbs.;
2 silver pitchers, weighing each 10 lbs.;
30 silver lamps, weighing each 20 lbs.;
a jar of silver weighing 150 lbs., holding 2 medimni.
The Life of Pope Sylvester

1. The present church of San Lorenzo in Agro Verano is formed by the union of two ancient basilicas, which were thrown into one by Honorius III in the thirteenth century. The smaller of these two, which contains the present choir and covers the resting-place of the saint, may owe its foundation to Constantine. Little beside the columns of the lower floor can, however, with safety be ascribed to him, for the building was restored at the beginning of the fifth century and again rebuilt, with the addition of the galleries, at the close of the sixth. See infra, p. 89, n. 3; p. 168, n. 2. The description given here is interesting as one of the earliest of a confession or tomb chamber of a martyr in a basilica erected "ad corpus." The basilica was placed so that its altar stood directly over the tomb, which was reached by steps leading down below the altar.
2. Here, as in the case of the lands bestowed on Sant' Agnese, the estates, so far as their situation can now be determined, lay in the neighborhood of the basilica upon which they were conferred.
3. This is the land upon which the basilica stood. Duchesne thinks that a passage like this, alluding to a well-known persecution with no mention of emperor or date, is certainly taken from a source at least as old as the first half of the fourth century. Op. cit., p. cl.
4. Duchesne believes that this passage also indicates the use of some primitive source, that the expression, "name of the Christians," to signify the Christian community antedates the persecution of Diocletian. The property here mentioned was perhaps a part of the possessions of the church restored to it by the Edict of Milan. Duchesne, ibid., pp. cl, cli.
5. The name may be derived from some sulphurous springs on the Via Tiburtina, sixteen miles from Rome. Duchesne, op. cit., p. 198, n. 89.




Quondam © 2014.03.31